Focus on the Backroads » Photo Journeys

Focus on the Backroads: MAGIC BUS: The Volkswagen Bus

The Volkswagen Bus is the Grandfather of the 80’s most popular “family” vehicle – The mini van.

Ben Pon drew the original sketches of the VW Van in 1947.  Pon owned the first Volkswagen dealership outside of Germany.  On March 8, 1959 the first production models left the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, Germany.  It was a big box place on the Beetle chassis and called the Transporter.

In 1952 the first VW Bus was sold in the US and soon could be seen traveling the back roads of  America.  A few years later it became a part of the Hippie culture.  The Bus made it’s way across country to music festivals from Monterey, CA;  Newport, RI; Lewisville, TX; and Max Yasgur’s farm (Woodstock) in Bethel, NY.

The Volkswagen Bus became associated with Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead.  Deadheads would faithfully follow the band, many in their hand painted, shag carpeted VW Buses.  When Jerry Garcia died in 1995 Volkswagen ran an ad in a special additional of Rolling Stone magazine that has become one of the most famous printed ads ever.  It is a sketch of the bus with a tear coming down from one of it’s headlights.  The only copy is Jerry Garcia 1942 – 1995.

For over 60 years the VW Bus has captured the hearts and imagination of travelers through out the United States.   Many singing the following lyrics as they tour the Back roads of America  

Every day you’ll see my dust…as I drive my baby in my Magic Bus  –  Pete Townsend (The Who)                                                                                                                                                                                                               

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